Deeba Shahnaz Akhter
EVER year third Sunday in the month of November is commemorated as World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims to remember the many millions killed or injured in road crashes, together with their families and communities who are also affected. This day also remind us to thank emergency services, ambulance, police and medical professionals who daily deal with the traumatic aftermath of road death and injury. This is 22nd anniversary of observing the World Day also attracts attention towards 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice and tackle climate change by 2030 which is even not possible without working on the one of the main indicator of health SDG 3.6 number of deaths due to road traffic accidents.
The cumulative toll of road traffic inured and causalities is truly traffic. Each year millions of newly injured and bereaved people from all over the world are being added up to the countless millions who already suffer.
Road Traffic injuries are the leading cause of the death among the young people 15- 29 years and 91% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low and middle income countries like Pakistan, even though these countries have approximately half of the world’s vehicles.
Each year approximately 1.25 million people die world over and over 50 million get disabled due to road traffic accidents.
According to statistics, Punjab Emergency Service Rescue 1122 alone is dealing with about 700 road traffic crashes every day, which means about 700 families got traumatized when their solely responsible person of the house get injured or died in the road crashes. Road deaths and injuries are sudden, violent, and traumatic and have long lasting impact on families. The grief and distress experienced by the road crashes may not be measured in digits but many of the crashes can be prevented with collective efforts by the Government and community response to road crashes.
The key factors for road traffic crashes involved are thrilling behavior , violation traffic rules, over speeding, impaired driving, deficient road infrastructure, non use of seat belt, non use of child restraints, failing wear motorcycle helmets and cell phone use / texting during road use.
The interesting fact is that 80 to 90% road crashes are occurring due to behaviour of road users. Further, death rate in road crashes shall be increased due to unavailability of emergency services with trained staff as swift and professional response minimizes further injuries and death.
The citizens of Punjab are lucky to have a comprehensive and integrated model of emergency management Rescue1122 through which Government of Punjab is providing every citizen the right to emergency care at door steps on single emergency call.
Rescue 1122 has rescued over 5.3 million emergency victims in different emergencies including 1.6 million road traffic crashes by timely emergency response and professional management in case of all emergencies.
The advocacy campaigns focusing on community education on road safety to reduce the number of accidents are being held in collaboration with Rescue Mohafiz (Volunteers), government organizations and partner organizations like International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and Voluntary Overseas (VSO).
Actually, Road Safety needs to have collective efforts of Public and Private sector with strict enforcement.
The concrete steps towards road safety which can reduce the exposure to risk, prevent road traffic crashes and promotion of safety culture are an effective licensing program in all provinces, including road safety and safety related education in curriculum, strict enforcement of traffic rules, impartial research and development on road safety, a clear road safety policy, effective legislation to cover pedestrians and other road users like, non motorized vehicles- slow moving carts and extensive media campaign to make our communities civilized road users.
Rescue 1122 in collaboration with Non Government organizations, Traffic Police, Rescue Mohafiz, Health and Safety Professionals from different institutes and Fire and Safety Association of Pakistan (FSAP) and Civil Societies are commemorating road traffic victims by organizing Seminar, distributing awareness material on road safety, sharing lesson learnt from major crashes.
The Punjab emergency Service invites communities to join hands with Rescue 1122 by enrollment as Rescue Mohafiz, become role model of safety ambassador and contribute in promotion of safety culture in the country.
Rescue 1122 is providing a platform of volunteering service for developing disaster resilient, healthier and safer communities.
We as responsible society must do commitment on this day that we will play our positive role and behave responsibly while using road for developing Safer Communities in Pakistan.
—The writer is a Head, Community Safety & Information, Rescue 1122, Punjab and can be reached at email@example.com